Palms of Victory: Cal Women's Soccer earns dramatic road win at Stanford

Men's Soccer has won their last two matches, including 2-0 over UCLA

I did not get the chance to write this post last week, so here are all the Cal Victories from essentially the past two weeks: from March 12th to 21st.

Cal Women’s Soccer downs defending champ Stanford 1-0

Sure, the 2021 Stanford women’s soccer team is not quite the same caliber as the ones that won two of the past three NCAA Championships. Stanford lost star midfielder Catarina Macario, who may eventually have a long USWNT career, to Olympique Lyonnais - the same squad that had previously signed Alex Morgan and a lot of the best women’s soccer player in the world in its recent history of dominating the Women’s Champions League competition. Nonetheless, it is always fun, emotional, and memorable when the California Golden Bears (4-2, 2-2 in Pac-12 play) beat their Bay Area rival.

You should check out the highlights from the Pac-12 Network below.

The Golden Bears were able to withstand numerous quality attacks by No.20 Stanford Cardinal down at The Farm on Saturday night. On their lone on-goal shot attempt of the match, the Cal Bears got a 42nd minute goal from sophomore Mia Fontana, with an assist to senior midfielder Emma Westin. With a long strike from outside the box, Fontana had some good fortune to score her first collegiate goal, with a kiss off the woodwork.

For the rest of the 90 minutes, the Golden Bears had to play a lot of defense. In her second match back from injury suffered after the season opener, senior captain Emily Smith had to clear the ball after the crossbar helped the Cal Bears on one of the many Stanford attacks. Indeed, Stanford had 21 shots to Cal’s 4 for the entire match. Sophomore goalkeeper Angelia Anderson had to really earn this clean sheet with 9 saves, including a huge one in the 88th minute when she stopped a penalty kick to preserve the one-goal Cal lead.

This victory was Cal’s first one over Stanford since 2013, when they needed a thrilling overtime Golden Goal to beat the Cardinal. There was a wait nearly that long to find the Cal win over Stanford before that.

Now, thanks to the talented youth between the reigning Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Year in Angelina Anderson (who won that award as a freshman), the freshmen class full of talent all over the field, and the fact that both seniors midfielder Emma Westin and defender Emily Smith (despite being drafted in the NWSL draft) have already committed to return for the fall season, the Cal Bears will look to make beating Stanford a more regular occasion. The next win over Stanford may just happen in the year 2021. In this atypical delayed schedule, the regular-season finale will see the Golden Bears host Stanford on Friday, April 16th. The Cal Bears will then get at least one more crack this fall.

Season Status:

With the top-ranked recruiting class in the country, Cal Women’s Soccer won their first two matches of the season at the Oregon schools to earn a top-10 TopDrawersSoccer ranking. The results were more uneven after that with a home split to the mountain school. After the Washington State match was canceled due to COVID on the Cougars’ side, Cal had a hard battle against Washington where the Bears had a 1-0 lead and dominated ball control for nearly the entire match before losing 2-1 to the Huskies and their goalkeeper Olivia Sekany, a graduate transfer from Cal. You may remember Sekay from this off-season story (unfortunately, I feel obligated to mention this story when I do write about Cal Women’s Soccer this season).

Coming up next for the Bears are home rematches against the Oregon schools (the previous wins were considered non-conference). What has separated the very good Cal teams over the past two decades from being great teams is consistency (and getting knocked out of the postseason tournament in the first two rounds). Golden Bears have never been a serious contender for the Pac-12 crown. We shall see if this talented Cal team can do better, even if UCLA is currently 5-0 in conference play.

This Cal team is good enough to win some meaningful matches both now (this delayed 2020 season) and this fall.

Two match winning streak for Cal Men’s Soccer

Cal Men’s Soccer finally earned a spot in this post last weekend when the Golden Bears won a hard-fought conference match at San Diego State 3-2. The Bears followed that up with a 2-0 win over UCLA, finally getting a win at Witter Rugby Field.

It turned out that the Golden Bears (2-3) had a really tough early schedule with Stanford, Washington, and Oregon State all ranked in the top-10 in the country at the moment. Unfortunately for the Bears, they will have to face those three teams another time in the regular season.

The young Cal squad also needed time to come together as a team. Both goalkeepers, redshirt junior Chris Gustini and redshirt freshman Collin Travasos, have not played before this season. Travasos eventually won the contest and played the entire match for the last three contests.

The Bears also only got one game worth of action from senior striker Tommy Williamson, the San Jose Earthquakes draftee, so far. Williamson might have been injured since the opening match.

Sophomore Arman Samini matched his entire freshmen output when he scored the game-winning goal and had an assist off the bench in the win over San Diego State, who is in the Pac-12 for men’s soccer.

It was a back-and-forth affair down in San Diego. The Bears answered the Aztecs’ first goal of the match with an equalizer 12 minutes later by Fahmi Ibrahim. When the Bears took the lead in the second half on a goal by Jonathan Estrada, the Aztecs immediately equalized within a minute. Then Samini put the Bears ahead for good in the 81st minute.

Samini earned the Pac-12 Player of the Week honor for his heroics.

Back in Berkeley this past weekend, the Cal Bears welcomed the UCLA Bruins. The Bears earned their first clean sheet of the season and kept the Bruins winless in Pac-12 play (0-4-1). Travasos only needed to make 4 saves even though the Bruins outshot the Bears 14 to 5.

Both of the Bears’ on-goal attacks found the back of the nets.

Goal 1:

Goal 2:

Junior Jonathan Estrada now leads the Bears with 2 goals. Freshman Evan Davila has 1 goal and 1 assist.

Season Status:

It is very encouraging to see the Cal Bears do better after a very tough start. The Golden Bears will have a Wednesday rematch against Stanford where they hope to have a better result than the 3-1 loss in the season opener.

Cal Field Hockey defeats UC Davis ahead of 1st of several East Coast Road Trip

Also getting a mention for the first time this year, Cal Field Hockey was able to defeat UC Davis last weekend.

The 2021 Cal Field Hockey team is without Megan Rodgers, the top scorer for the past three seasons who was already top-10 in Cal program history in goals after just three years. I have no idea if Rodgers is just taking the season off or done with college field hockey as she is just not listed on the team roster. The team also lost sophomore goalkeeper Zoe Rogers to tragedy this past fall.

With only UC Davis and Stanford (on their final year of existence before being cut along with 10 other programs) as the lone west coast field hockey schools, the Golden Bears have to do significantly more travel this season than all other Cal teams. I hope the players and coaches can stay healthy as well as find enough comfort on these long road trips to do their course works.

The Bears lost a scrimmage-like first match against UC Davis 2-1 to open the year but got revenge in week 2. Freshman Sara Stone scored her first career goal. Junior Brynn Zorilla then doubled Cal’s lead with a deflection goal for the final margin. Sophomore keeper Cato Knipping made three saves for the shutout.

Season Status:

The Cal Bears (1-3) are in the midst of the first of three East Coast trips (the last one for the America East conference tournament). The Bears lost a pair of 1-0 matches at Maine and at UMass-Lowell. They will play at Monmouth on Wednesday before heading home for matches against UC Davis and Stanford.

Clearly, the team still needs to find a reliable scorer to fill the void left by Megan Rodgers.

Cal Women’s Tennis goes undefeated in the past two weekends

Cal Women’s Tennis (10-2, 3-1 in Pac-12) have won their past four matches, most of them in decisive fashion.

On the road two weekends ago, the Golden Bears defeated San Diego by a 4-3 result. The Bears won the doubles point and then got wins from Jada Bui at No.4, Anna Bright at No.6, and Valentina Ivanov at No.3. After the Bears had clinched the meet win at 4-1, they dropped the two remaining matches.

Back to Pac-12 play and back in Bear Territory, the Golden Bears rolled over Arizona 7-0 and No.25 Arizona State 6-1 this past weekend.

Season Status:

The 20th ranked Bears will face Pepperdine from Malibu on Tuesday, March 23rd before hosting the Washington schools this weekend. The Golden Bears have enough talent to be a top-15 if not a top-10 team in the country, they are getting a lot of needed seasoning with every match.

The Cal lineup is quite balanced with two seniors No.43 Julia Rosenqvist at No.2 and Anna Bright at No.6, two sophomores No.18 Haley Giavara at No.1 and No.21 Valentina Ivanov at No.3, and two freshmen Jada Bui at No.4 and Hannah Viller Moeller at No.5. After a tough 2018 season and a 2019 season when they lost in the NCAA second round, the Cal Bears appear to be back to being a perennial Sweet 16 or better program.

Cal Men’s Gymnastics defeats Air Force, continues to improve team score

For Cal Men’s Gymnastics, the goal is to improve their own team score, regardless of whoever is competing on the other side of the video screens.

Over the past two weekends, the Golden Bears twice set a new season-high team score in a pair of virtual meets.

The Bears first defeated No.14 Air Force by earning a team score of 389.700.

For the 3rd time this year, Noah Newfeld was named the CGA Rookie of the Week. Newfeld earned the honor by posting three personal record scores in this meet.

By the way, several of these meets only have teams fielding five gymnasts per rotation rather than the typical six. So no score could be dropped.

Season Status: The Golden Bears followed the win over Air Force last weekend with their best meet yet this past Saturday. Unfortunately, they were up against No.1 Oklahoma Sooners (who got a 404.700, which the official Cal press release does not even mention). Nonetheless, the No.11 Cal Bears (5-3) now has a season-high score of 390.600 after season-highs on still rings (63.700) and parallel bars (65.950), breaking that 390 score threshold for the first time this year.

Ahead of the MPSF Championship in two weeks (April 3rd), the Cal Bears will face-off against No.4 Stanford one more time on March 27th from The Farm.

Cal Softball wins some more games as Pac-12 play began

Cal 8, UC Davis 0 (5 innings)

Chloe Romero improved to 4-0 with a complete game shutout. Lauren Espalin went 2 for 2 with a homer and 3 RBI and Makena Smith went 3 for 3 with 2 RBI at the top of the Cal lineup.

Cal 0, Fresno State 8 (5 innings)

Cal 3, UC Davis 2

Lauren Espalin had two big run-scoring doubles in T5 and T7 to give the Bears this come-from-behind win. Chloe Romero improved to 5-0 after coming into the circle in-relief.

Cal 7, Fresno State 5

The Golden Bears scored 6th runs in T6, capped by an Aleia Agbayani grand slam to win this game. Romero won her second game of that day as the lucky reliever.

Cal 2, Pacific 0

Karlee Sparacino hit a homer and Haylei Archer tossed 6.1 innings for her 4th win of the season. Chloe Romero closed the game out for her first save.

Pac-12 Play

Cal 0, Oregon State 6

Cal 2, Oregon State 0

Sona Halajian had a two-run homer while Haylei Archer pitched a complete game shutout for the Golden Bears’ first Pac-12 win in the new Chelsea Spencer era.

Cal 2, Oregon State 6

Cal 3, Oregon State 4

Season Status:

For what it is worth, Cal Softball (12-7, 1-2 in Pac-12 play) had chances to win all four games against the Oregon State Beavers (apparently one of them counted as non-conference). A fluke base-running play cost the Bears the tying run in the finale against Oregon State in T6.

The Bears will host UCLA for four games this weekend where we will really learn if the new pitching tandem of Sona Halajian and Haylei Archer could handle Pac-12 play. Archer (5-1, 2.82 ERA) does have wins over Stanford and Oregon State despite a low strikeout rate (just 31 K in 44.2 IP). Halajian (1-5, 3.57 ERA) also does not miss too many bats (22 K in 35.1 IP).

More walk-off magic for Cal Baseball as the Bears have won the last 4 series

Cal 3, Loyola Marymount 4

Cal 11, Loyola Marymount 5

Dylan Beaver went 3 for 4 with a solo homer and 3 RBI in this game. Sean Sullivan started and went 6 strong innings, allowing only 2 runs in a quality start.

Cal 6, Loyola Marymount 4

The Bears led 5-1 by the end of the 3rd and hold on for the win in game 2 of a doubleheader. Josh White pitched 5 innings in relief as the “bulk guy” behind opener Joseph King. Two-way player Steven Zobac earned his 3rd save of the season.

Cal 7, Loyola Marymount 1

Paulshawn Pasqualotto went 8.2 innings while allowing just 4 hits and 0 walks. The Bears scored 7 runs in B2, capped by a three-run homer by Dylan Beaver.

Cal 0, Cal Baptist 7

Cal 15, Cal Baptist 1

Sean Sullivan allowed just two hits and had 7 K’s in 6 innings. A 4-run 5th and a 6-run 6th broke open a 3-1 game. The Bears scored 15 runs without the benefit of a homerun. In fact, 14 of the 17 Cal hits were singles.

Cal 9, Cal Baptist 8

To win the game and the series, Dylan Beaver hit a walk-off homer in B9.

Before Beaver’s heroic, Cole Elvis went 3 for 4 with a homer and 3 RBI. The Bears scored 2 runs in B8 to tie the game.

Season Status:

Cal Baseball (12-7) will start Pac-12 play at Utah this weekend. The Pac-12 Networks will have coverage of all three games. The Bears have been a little bit lucky in winning 5 games via walk-off already this year (or some could say that Mike Neu’s men have the intangibles). Cal might have enough pop, led by Dylan Beaver and his 7 homers from the two-hole in the lineup, to be in most games, but there are some questions about the depth of the pitching staff that will need to be monitored in the early parts of conference play. Of course, the pitching could be easily solved if Grant Holman, a 2021 Baseball America Preseason All-American, is back to make his season debut.

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